Hard as it's been, my absence from this blog does have a good reason: I'm studying abroad in London! The way universities over here work, that means I am cooking for myself full time for the first time. For someone who takes pleasure in preparing healthy, delicious meals for myself, this is a fun and rewarding new challenge. But as a student with limited means living on a temporary basis in one of the more expensive cities in the world, it also presents of number of less than agreeable limitations. One of which being that I do not have the luxury of working with my fully stocked and beautiful kitchen at home, or even the surprisingly well-provisioned makeshift kitchen I store under my bed at school. I've had to stock my dorm kitchen here from scratch, and because I'm only going to be here for a few months, it doesn't seem like a logical investment to pay for a full cabinet of pans and ingredients that I won't be able to bring home with me in May. I've had to stick the very basics. So far, I have gotten by with only a frying pan and a medium-sized pot.
Yet another imposition to baking is the fact that I have to carry all my groceries home from the store. I'd like to see you lug heavy bags of flour and sugar the whole 20-minute walk back from the supermarket! Because I certainly won't be attempting it.
For the first couple weeks, I was in despair. How could I go four months without being able to bake?? A week in, I was already suffering withdrawal from eating my own baked goods, and from the creative and stress outlet of the physical process of baking. Cue a serendipitous revelation on Foodgawker: cake mix cookies!
I'll just let that sink in for a minute while you look at this (delicious) picture proof that what I just said is actually possible. Yes, you can really make cookies out of cake mix.
I was jubilant. Here was my unhoped for perfect solution, a way to bake without stocking my pantry with all the small but essential ingredients needed to make even the most basic recipe! And, given the wide berth of different flavors available, there was still space enough for some creative wiggle room. What combination would I make? My go-to favorite, chocolate and peanut butter? A simple cake batter re-mix of chocolate chip cookies using vanilla cake mix? Something totally zany and out there, like Sally's recent Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies?
My friends here happened on Cadbury's Caramel bar a couple weeks ago and have been hooked ever since. After discovering that this bar also came bite-size in the form of Cadbury Caramel Nibbles, I decided to capitalize on their obsession and make chocolate cake mix cookies with the caramel nibbles mixed in.
They were an unmitigated success. The recipe made close to two dozen cookies, and when everything was said and done, there were only 4 cookies left - and those only because I set them aside for picture taking the next day. Everyone kept reaching back for more cookies as fast as I could pull them out of the oven.
These cookies are genre-bending crowd pleaser. They are: The taste of chocolate cake and the fudgy richness and consistency of a brownie packaged in the convenient form of a cookie. The three most popular baked goods, all rolled into one. I can't imagine anyone with a functioning sweet tooth could ever resist. And if you can, well, I'm not sure you're the kind of person I want to know. Please give me that cookie back right now, so I can give it to someone who will appreciate it properly (me).
This discovery has lifted my baking-sick (get it? like homesick, but for baking? no? okay) depressed spirits and recharged me with new fervor for the many possibilities for future cake mix cookie creations. I can't wait to go grocery shopping next and browse the baking isle for inspiration for new combinations to try!
Adapted from TREATS
1 package chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp water
1 bag Cadbury Caramel Nibbles (or similar)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cake mix, egg, oil and water in large mixer bowl and mix with rubber spatula until smooth. Stir in caramel nibbles and mix well. You may want to break up the caramel nibbles into smaller bits so that they're more dispersed throughout the dough, but it's up to you.
Roll dough into balls roughly the size of a ping pong ball, taking care to make dough balls taller than they are wide (as per Sally's ingenius protip). Bake for 12 minutes.
Let cool completely on the baking sheet.